We all know and love Tom Skilling: The Man. He’s been part of our lives for more than four decades here at WGN.

But what you may not know is the story of Tom Skilling: The Boy — whose curiosity about weather was born in childhood.

“Growing up with someone like Tom, it was magical. There was never a dull moment,” his sister Sue Skilling said.

Sue, along with Tom, recently visited their hometown of Aurora, Illinois. They spoke about growing up in their family home, which included Tom’s first weather office which allowed Tom to launch his career at the age of 14.

Unbeknownst to his parents, Tom wrote a letter to WKKD and offered to be their weather man.

“He would do the weather forecast in the morning,” Sue said. “He must have gotten up 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. to do the weather, and then he would call them into the station and they would tape them. He would do that Monday through Friday.”

“This is where my television career started, right over there where the gazebo is,” Tom said. “That used to be a building that housed a movie theater and Channel 60 right here on the banks of the Fox River. I had my first teletype there, it gave me coded weather reports, and I would hand plot them. After high school I would drive down here, get a television weather show ready and every night at 6:30 p.m. we’d go on the air with the local newscast they did. And I’d do the weather segment in my senior year in high school. …  It was an incredible opportunity, but it must have been strange for the local audience to see a young high schooler doing the weather.”

More on our coverage of Tom Skilling’s retirement here!

“Just watching him and how much he loved doing what he was doing,” Sue said. “He could do it for hours, and he was happy doing it, and he was good at it! … He was just a natural. Actually, what you see today is kinda what he was back then.”